tv Charlie Rose PBS November 8, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PST
>> charlie: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with neil patrick harris. >> i've lived a lot of chapters and i think that was the thing i keyed in on was that i didn't have a big arc to tell, but i had lots of really extraordinarily interesting things that i have gotten to do, whether they be act as a kid or white water rafting in costa rica or, yeah, having kids through sur roug surrogacy. >> charlie: we conclude with al hunt, his guest denis mcdonough, white house chief of staff. >> we know to win this thing, our effort to degrade and destroy i.s.i.l, our security forces have to be the boots on the ground to take the fight to i.s.i.l. our guys will make sure they're
forward deployed at al-assad air base to train them and make sure they can take the fight to i.s.i.l themselves. this is their battle to win, not ours. >> charlie: neil patrick harris and denis mcdonough when we continue. funding for charlie rose is provided by the following. >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose.
>> charlie: neil patrick harris is here and we're happy about that. he's having a really big year. he won the tony for his portrayal of a transgender rock star, finished nine season run as barney stinson on "how i met your mother," stars in "gone girl" and was chosen as the host of the 2015 oscars. if that is not enough, we want you to know more. he has a book called "neil patrick harris: choose your own autobiography." i am pleased to have himt the table for the first time. welcome. >> thank you, sir. >> charlie: i say it's never too young to write your autobiography. >> do you think? i had been asked a couple of years back to write a memoir. i think because i was a child actor that means you have something to say. i never thought i had much to say. i still feel like my life doesn't -- is boring.
>> charlie: it doesn't have an ending. >> i've lived a lot of chapters. that's what i keyed p in on. i didn't have a b arc to tell but i had a lot of extraordinarily interesting things i've gotten to do, whether act as a kid or white water rafting in costa rica or, yeah, having kids through surrogacy or hosting tony's and what the opening number of that is like but they're all disparate elements and i thought it would be fun to find a structure -- >> charlie: people want to know what it's like to be you. >> i think they want to know what we're doing. unfortunately, the world we live in with the media, you have to answer yourself in a nine-second sound byte to make it clean for the next question. so i'm only getting to talk about nice things, weddings and things in a short span of time. in the book, it allows you to be me. written second person. >> charlie: why did you do that? >> do you know those choose your
own adventure books? >> charlie: yes. that was what it was based on. it was less drama and more of a fun read and, through that, you can decide if you're wanting to read more about my childhood you can go to this page and if you're wanting to jump ahead you can see barney stinson. >> charlie: readers can choose where they want to go. that's why you called it "choose your own autobiography." >> yes. there's also drink recipes, david's secret pages. >> charlie: did david proofread it as soon as you wrote it? >> yes, and a couple of pages, his annotated notes are handwritten in the book so you can see how he runs my life. >> charlie: is it easy to write a book about your life? did you talk to a tape recorder, sit down at a computer? >> i had the great help of another writer who is super
funny, wrote on the daily show. he was able to help fill the smallish stories i had with life and comedy. but it was hard to -- it has an interesting and fun sense of humor, i hope, and i think through the comedy you can come up with dramatic, interesting stories. i think the idea of coming out in the media or having children with a same-sex couple and the minutia about that, if you told a book about that, it would get drool. but as comedy, it might have more impact. >> charlie: was this book a performance? >> a variety show. >> charlie: what did you like doing? >> the variety acts in a circus. the circus, small-town new mexico. the circus would come to
albuquerque at the state fair and we would go once a year and i would go straight to the midway and the carnies and the freaks and i wanted to see the two-headed woman, and there was a guy named popeye that would pop his eyes out of their sockets and they would shake and go back in. >> charlie: we had the same thing in a small town in north carolina. >> it was politically incorrect to like that for ten or 15 years. i'm still a fan of the juggling. i love the fact they can have that skill and then go about their lives. >> charlie: what attracted you, i can learn a skill i can take with me? >> with magic i was learning how it was done and appreciating secrets and trying to figure out with my left brain, right brain, how it could possibly be done and then appreciating with the
other side of my brain that it still seems magical. watching someone float on stage. >> charlie: levitating. levitation. you know it's not possible. david copperfield, a whole special where he levitated himself with people all around and going through hoops and you think how in the world is that possibly done and i like to know secrets of how things work. >> charlie: i assume there was nothing that you were not prepared to include as long as you thought it was interesting because it seems like it was easy for you to talk about coming out and -- >> no. >> charlie: no? i would say no. those were the ones that were trickier because i didn't want to seem slaycious. coming out involves attraction and stories of how i knew i was gay. i didn't want to go into too much detail. >> charlie: because? i want to be authentic in telling my story but i don't want to seem the reason i'm
including these incidences -- >> charlie: you never had a thought of not including it, did you? >> yes, and there's stuff i didn't include. >> charlie: what? what kinds of stuff? >> i've worked with a lot of interesting, eclectic people. so there were certainly people i worked with and had less than enjoyable experiences. >> professionally. sure. i have been doing this for more than 20 years. >> charlie: yeah. so i didn't want to just include all of the -- >> charlie: you wanted to make sure you didn't hurt people? >> that's not my sense of humor, to be honest. during "how i met your mother," that was a conversation we actively had. there were a couple of episodes in a row where the jokes were, like, oh, you're so embarrassing that you're single and you're this. the audience would laugh. and then they would say, you're so fat, you're this. and it was below the belt. we said, that's not our style. we want to be smart funny, we
don't just want to look at you and decide what i can attack. >> charlie: one of the characters was supposed to be more mean-spirited than it came out and someone said you brought such a niceness to it that your core essence was there and that they modified the character. >> that's good. i think i have that as a little trump card. >> charlie: that you're likable? >> i think people feel like they know me. i'm accessible. they grew up watching me through the years and, so, i think that then if i get to play dark or if i get to have secrets or something, it's a little more unexpected because, you know, you've seen me hosting a lot of shows where i essentially say, come on in, relax. >> charlie: what's the art of that, hosting the tonies? >> the tony's? it's like being p.t. barnum.
>> charlie: you're very good at that. >> i love respecting people and showing an audience specific people doing things. ed sullivan and i would like to show people doing all these things, a guy on a tight rope, roller skaters on -- >> charlie: you could have been ed sullivan. >> i would have loved to have been. >> charlie: how would you like to do a show every sunday like that at 8:00? >> i'm enamoured people have studied a singular thing and not a lot of people are good at it and they can show it off. the tony's are great because it's live and massive performances but performances that have been done night after night so you're assured of quality level that's hard to achieve on the other award shows because those are one-offs. those are writing an original song, getting choreographers,
getting people to perform with you and crossing your fingers that the one time you do it in front of millions of people it goes well. the tony's is, and now this amazing number from this show. they're so happy to perform, then you kill it, they do a comedy bit, everyone's so happy to be on stage and then another. it's a fun show. >> charlie: were the oscars electing you a surprise? >> it was a surprise to me. >> charlie: totally? totally. >> charlie: did someone call you up and say we want you to host the oscars or would you be interested in this? >> i got a call saying the producers would like to sit down and meet with me to talk about it which i assumed meant i was a choice. >> charlie: did you have that conversation? >> yeah, we went and sat. i didn't want to say yes because i had a lot of questions to them. >> charlie: as to whether? as to how creatively it worked. you don't want to sign on for something and be told exactly what to do and you feel like -- >> charlie: it's not me. yeah, right? i want to be able to show it's
me and that's what i'm doing. so i assumed that with the academy and a show of that scale, there would be a lot more hurdles and a lot more people saying, no, you can't do that. >> charlie: i'm not surprised of the selection at all, but in reading about you, several people call you johnny carsonesque, you know? that was something johnny carson did really well, hosting the oscars. >> yeah. i loved carson. i got to be on his show. i'm a massive fan so i took that as a compliment. >> charlie: it was about style and elegance and a sense of being able to make it easy that he had and you have. >> i feel that -- >> charlie: it's working. thanks. i feel it's its own unique skill and i've gotten to do it a fair amount, but i also feel like i don't have a great amount to
prove in that world. like, i want it to go well for the show. like, i'm not trying to land a development deal by killing it at the oscars. you know what i mean? i'm not saying i'm not looking for work, i'm just saying i don't have an internal agenda for that. i really, truly want that night to go incredibly well for the people that are winning, who don't win, for the people watching at home. i want it to seem like we're honoring movies, that you can sit back and enjoy it and not be nervous something is about to go wrong. >> charlie: and the audience wants to see you having a good time. >> totally. >> charlie: looking like he's loving this. >> not only me but all the presenters. >> charlie: yeah. and people coming up and accepting their award. you never want to see somebody shaking and getting the paper in their hand. >> charlie: a clip from this year's tony awards. here he is performing a number.
on and the microphone, you do what you gotta do! a girl's gotta make a living, you know? >> charlie: now, how long did it take you to make that work? >> a little while. i had never done drag or put on a wig or done the heels ever. >> charlie: yeah. frankly, i had a strange aversion to it. i don't know why, i thought it would emasculate me in some random way. just speaking personally. one of the reasons i took it on was kind of a challenge to see how much i could own that feminine side of myself. so it took a month or two of just walking in a circle in heels and figuring out how your hips move different. guys walk straight, girls walk curvy. >> charlie: did you have help deciding that or find that on your own? >> much, much help. the director michael mayer, choreographer spencer lift, the wardrobe, it was a real collaboration. >> charlie: might we see something like that at the
beginning of the oscars? (laughter) >> well, i had lost 21 pounds to do the gig, so i looked super i emacated. no, you have to be more polished to do that for the audience. >> charlie: are you happiest on stage? >> probably. there's something pure about the stage experience. i think the redundancy of it gets to be tiring because when it goes really great for 20 performances and then on a matinee they're less interested, it's hard to get out of your own head and think, is it them, me, did i lose it? >> charlie: is it different every night or just occasionally it's different. >> it's always different every night. >> charlie: the audience is always different, but -- >> you can't lock it and you can't do something wildly different just because, so you have to be in the same world every show, but you have to be able to listen to the other
person, to the audience and sort of augment based on what's happening in that performance. i think starting from a, ending at zed, and having the audience applaud for it is a great completion. when you're making a movie or tv show or even hosting, it's part and par sell. you do a scene here and there and they edit it later and you get to watch it later and see how it came across at the end, but when you're on stage, you're really performing it all the way through and then seeing how it went. that's fun. >> charlie: take a look at this. an opening number of the tony awards as well with. the biggest opening number the tony's have ever done. here it is. (singing) ♪
>> 150 of those. can i have my close up, please? (laughter) >> on broadway, we don't need extreme closeups to prove we're singing live. (cheers and applause) we sing live eight shows a week. check it! ♪ at the end of the day we are gathered together to honor the best and the brightest. (singing) ♪ captioning sponsored by
fast he's speaking and how exhausted you would be afterwards. third, how did you have the breath control to do all of that because you're singing at the same time at a rapid rate? >> and that was three-quarters of the way through the number when you started watching it. breath control is difficult. we had the lyrics written. >> charlie: is it difficult to breathe? >> it is. the audience laughed longer than i thought and i got one more extra breath in, but i was hoping i didn't screw up the teleprompter read. those words were scrolling so fast on a tv screen i was looking right in the middle of. >> charlie: someone described it as a flip of a girl. he describes himself as a flip of a girl. >> it's this wonderful punk rock monologue-ish musical that john
and stephen wrote about an east german woman trying to get out of east germany when the wall was up, met a guy, he was a boy at that time, fell in love, and the only way he could escape was to marry this guy who was an american and the only way through that to prove that they were husband and wife was to have a sex change operation, and it was botched, and it left him with an angry inch. then he got to america and things went kind of sour, they got a divorce and she sort of left following this guy that she's obsessed with who's a rock star and she sort of sings her story and monologues her story about trying to figure out what oneness is, what makes -- what defines completion. and she's seeking her other half, and she's caught in this loop. she's caught in this track like a broken record that if she's only with this other person who's successful, if they're
only together and if he only loved her, they would be complete. so she follows that, even though it's not meant to be. and through the story and things that happened, she realizes that you need oneness. you can't be -- everyone's fractured and broken and no one's completely whole, but when you're okay with that, then you are complete in who you are. >> charlie: he said it was more than learning and blocking a memory. it was like a total absorption. >> it had to be in every way. i've never done anything like it. i doubt i'll do anything like it again. it was 45 minutes of makeup to transform me into a different gender. all the way through talking, bra, everything. i was a woman, essentially. then i had to have a german accent. i had to sing in a rock style that was unfamiliar to me. and i had to do a show with a a lot of variables. i would talk to the audience.
people would talk to me, talk back, people i would reference, fondle. you couldn't just go into auto pilot because every night was different. sometimes people were not liking it and you tried to win them over. >> charlie: how do you win them over? >> it's a good question. it depended. normally i would try tricks i know well, like smiling at the end of a line to let them know it's okay or pausing a little bit longer so the audience thinks something's wrong so when i say my line i can kind of win them back. but with head dig, she's supposed to be a superstar. i had to do improv knowing it wasn't working because i thought the character needed to be in a place of failure so i ended up
feeling egg on my face sometimes and i had to control myself to not try and fight my way out of it but to stay in this place when it's not going well. that's actually good for the show and the part so that was fun to do. >> charlie: despite all the things you've done whether the tony's or television you did before, do most people their first instinct is to say barney? >> i think most still say doodie. >> charlie: do they? which is remarkable because it hasn't been on for so long. >> charlie: when? it was only on four years, ending in $94. >> charlie: you're doing okay. yeah, in the building checking in, getting my name tag downstairs. the woman said, doogie hauser! i said, i'm 41! but i'll take it.
i was very proud of that show. nice to have multiple chapters in a book to refer to. >> charlie: exactly what you've done here. >> yeah. >> charlie: tell me about barney. who is barney? >> barney stinson was sort of the fifth wheel, best friend, constantly single bachelor bro of ted, the antagonist of "how i met your mother." he exemple side why you shouldn't be with anyone when the show first started. it was, like, ted, what are you doing? you don't want to get married or date anybody. look at all the chicks! let's bang them all! he was an ad adventurous cad. >> charlie: this is when barney answered to a high council of players after he picks up a girl from the east side. >> gentlemen, your attendance here, i'm sad to say that
council has a barney that picked up a girl outside his territory. the east side is tuxedo charlie's turf. he's mad. true story. the agreement of 2004 defined fifth avenue to be our hunting ground dividing line. your west side college girls are not the slip i park my boat in. now, you should know my east side debutantes are quite foreboden! >> members of the council, bros, nobody wants a war! of course, i've not forgotten the agreement of 2004. a bonehead move. a defendant i'm not able to. have i not been a bro to each bro at this table? my friend from brooklyn pickle jar bob will give validation. remember the tourist looking for penn station? she came in from boston, had a wicked look good in bed look and
i gave her directions and she ended up in red hook. >> you told her you wouldn't cheat her in your quest to lie upon her. impersonating yankees! have you no honor! >> let's not blow this detente to smithereens. on my subway ride from 61 and woodside i came up with a plan to keep you on each other's good side. barney, you're long eastern. you must grant them a west side hottie of their choosing. >> that's the settlement? c'mon, that's not a settlement. >> what say you? i want robin. lily. >> charlie: you've got to love that (laughter) >> that was an episode, they wanted to do it all as a nursery rhyme so the entire episode was
written in rhyme, marshal telling a story to his son and i got to play five people at the same time. >> charlie: how do you get better? just by doing it? >> i think by trying new things. >> charlie: "gone girl," that stretching, that was a serious part. >> a serious part, and i'm all kinds of reasons why he shouldn't have cast me and for some reason -- >> charlie: he did. david did, yeah. i was currently on a tv show, i i'm host more than a personality sometimes, i'm also openly gay and he's asking me in a serious movie to play the love interest of a lead woman and i was glad to have the opportunity and uniquely able to do that and i'm glad he wanted me to try and present myself that way. i love doing it. >> charlie: did he say why he wanted you? >> i think he said what you
mentioned earlier is there was an accessibility to me so that in this particular role he didn't come across super antagonistically as just a bad guy but that for some reason you felt comfortable with me taking amy into this world that is actually kind of a jail cell and that i'm not just -- >> charlie: all right, roll tape. a scene from "gone girl." >> i know you. i saw you at the volunteer center. >> i wanted to help. well, i hope you don't mind me coming by. i got your address from this letter that you wrote my wife. >> amy and i believed in the lost art of letter writing. >> i always wondered why you kept in touch -- after everything. you were together for two years in boarding school, right? >> she was my first serious girlfriend. >> why did you break up? that's a strange question. did you treat her bad? did you cheat on her?
>> that's a rude question. let me tell you what aimia told me. she dumped you, you came unraveled. you stalked her, attempted suicide in her bed and you were institutionalized. >> your wife is missing and you came to tell me this? >> i thought there might be another side to this story. mr. collins... >> charlie: all right! i was so still. it was so weird to watch that after having watching the tony award number where i'm so, like, firing on all cylinders. >> charlie: nice dialogue, too, though, isn't it? >> well, ben affleck's great. i just wanted to service the material as best as i could. to be super honest. i was so appreciative i got to meet david, the director, and when i got cast in the movie, i got to spend time with all of them and i wanted to make sure i wasn't the weak link in the chain. >> charlie: do you have any idea where you will be five
years from now? >> our kids will be nine. >> charlie: you will be living in harlem in a townhouse to be completed by then. >> here's hoping. >> charlie: yeah. five years from now -- >> charlie: i mean, will you have become a movie star and do other things? >> i don't know. >> charlie: have you done your last television series? >> oh, i don't want to declare. i would say -- >> charlie: and you're doing -- going through a thing where you're deciding what you might say and what are the repercussions? >> i'm actually trying to weigh out if i said i wanted to be a movie star what that would mean and if i wanted to do a tv show what that would be in five years. i'm frankly super appreciativity and loving that i'm getting to do little dabbles of it all. i don't know that the movie star life is in line with having a family and two kids right now because you end up being uprooted and having to go to prague for four months. i don't know i'd really want the to do that and not have time
with my kids during these years in their lives. but i could see providing entertainment for people in a consistent level. so i don't know if that means i'm playing myself or a different part, but i'm loving new york. a perfect world in five years, i'm ed sullivan. >> charlie: i thought you would say that. >> and once a week i get to show everyone amazing performances on broadway, amazing magicians, great restaurant that we went to to be a bit of a tastemaker where i get to p.t. barnum. >> charlie: they never tried it themselves and maybe the landscape is so changed all the wise people who command television know why it hasn't been tried because they think whatever is offered is offered in so many different ways it no longer has its magic. >> i'll tell you why i think it's different. >> charlie: okay. there is way more channel and the attention span of people is
very small. when you used to watch ed sullivan or any of the morning variety shows, the magician could do eight minutes. he would come out in tails, make his cane vanish, do some cards. he'd produce a dove. people will change the channel now. you have to do a show now where it's their best two and a half minutes next. so instead of six acts, you have 26 acts. like "america's got talent." that's why it's so successful. you want to meet the person, see their best thing. talk about it and move on. that's the difference. >> charlie: the name of television, move on. >> move on at m.p.h. kind of bad. >> charlie: it was so great because there was not much on so you knew the first time you saw elvis was on ed sullivan. he was the point man of television. >> that would be great. unfortunately, we live in a world of youtube where you click play and see a guy get kicked in
the nuts and move on to the next video. you don't need to see the buildup, you just want to see that. >> charlie: we want to get to the end, don't we? >> you want to see the 20 greatest plays, bang, bang, bang, bang, you don't want to watch the whole game. >> charlie: the ten best highlights of sunday night. here he, is folks. although still watch a lot of football. >> the future of variety would have to be akin to that. i don't think you can spend a lot of time doing -- you can't juggle three anymore. you have to juggle seven. >> charlie: "choose your own autobiography," neil patrick harris. congratulations observ on this d everything and thank you for taking this time with us. >> pli measure. >> charlie: neil patrick harris back in a moment. stay with us. albert: this is al hunt and we're going to by white house chief of staff denis mcdonough. thanks for being with us. >> a pleasure being with you. >> albert: meeting luncheon today at the white house with congressional leaders.
>> yeah. >> albert: give a sense of the move and con dent. >> reassuring to see after a hard fight all the leaders get together. obviously, people are tired after a long campaign season. but i think as you would expect it was a good candid conversation. there's a good amount of debate covering a whole range of issues from many of the things you've already seen reported -- ebola and the request for additional assistance on that, ongoing efforts, obviously, both overseas and here at home, our ongoing effort against i.s.i.l, but then also a focus on things that we can get done right here and now in the lame duck session to include questions about immigration as you would rightly expect. >> albert: take up some of these. i was told by people there the conversations about ebola and i.s.i.l was constructive. >> yes. >> albert: people felt there was a certain agreement on a lot of it. fair to say? >> i think it's very substantive. i think there was obviously an
agreement about the enormity of threat in the case of i.s.i.l and the enormity of challenges in the case of ebola. there was no kind of specific, you know, ask for anything specific out of the meeting. obviously, we'll need help on funding not only for ebola but also now for this enhanced training and advise and equip effort with the iraqis. it looked to me the body language out of the room is those things were received pretty positively but i don't want to jump to conclusions. >> albert: the same participants on immigration, was pretty contentious. >> yes. >> albert: boehner said no executive action and the president shot back and said, i'm the president. >> i won't characterize what anybody else said in there because i have a hard-and-fast rule which is i would be happy to tell you what the president thinks and what he said. the president said, look, we have been looking at this question of immigration reform for some sometime. there is uniform understanding
the system is broken. in the bush and late days of the clinton administration, the steps required to fix the immigration system are quite clear. in fact, that recipe has been set now for more than a decade. the question in the president's mind is what's stopping us from getting it done? what he thinks is he ought to go ahead and take executive action if congress can't get something done safe toly and that should serve as a catalyst to get congress to take this seriously and get it done. if congress passes law, that obviously will supersede any executive action that the president takes. >> albert: but mcconnell and boehner and other republicans say it will do just the opposite. they claim it will poison the well and ensure nothing will happen on immigration. >> that would be a shame. 1987 when president reagan paroled over 200,000 nicaraguans to stay in the country because of the ongoing strife in nicaragua, obviously everybody uniformly supported that. not only that, democrats who
controlled the congress at that time, they didn't walk from cooperation with president reagan. in fact, they worked with the reagan administration on any number of other things. as the president said in his press conference the other day, there are going to be things on which we agree and we should get to work and get those done. there will be things on which we disagree. we should debate them and hammer them out and see if we can come to common ground. >> albert: no question he'll do an executive action before christmas? >> he said we'll get it done before the end of the year. >> albert: did any other issues come up or any discussion about whether there may be areas of possible exxon ground, corporate tax refarm or trade? >> those are two examples of things that the president has said we ought to be able to work together on and he obviously leaves tomorrow night for his trip to asian where we're working on the trans-pacific partnership. it's an opportunity for us to not only open new markets but create better important, better
paying jobs here at home in the manufacture and export industries. that's one they can they talked about and should continue to work on. iran was an issue that came up and obviously we'll work together on that. as i said already, iraq. but there is frankly not as much focus on the next congress as this congress and the things that need to get done now. the other thing i put on that list is getting the continuing resolution that expires in early december, getting that renewed so we can fund the government the rest of the year. >> albert: let's take that up, first, the lame duck. what do you think realistically can be achieved in the lame duck? probably not immigration as you said a moment ago, you wanted to continue a resolution. what else? >> we would like to get the ebola money so we can make sure we're getting hospitals in cities across the country prepared to handle it effectively as new york did. i think they did a very nice job with the case of dr. spencer and they're continuing to work that.
that's a good example, in my view. another thing we think we should get progress on is this question of a new authorization for the use of military force in iraq. the president said let's get progress on that, the speaker indicated today that we won't necessarily get that done this year but we take that up next year. but they'll get started on the debate this year which i think is important. and then we obviously have a bunch of nominations that are pending up in the senate right now and we would sure like to see those get done. we're running the government day in and day out. we have over 220 nominees who are stalled up there. these are many cases, for example, career ambassadors, foreign service officers who have dedicated their lives to the country. they should be confirmed and we hope they will. >> albert: there are reports you selected a new brooklyn prosecutor of being attorney general. any chance of getting that act in on the lame duck? >> i don't have any personal news for you.
>> albert: you know, after electoral rejections which i think you acknowledge the democrats suffered this time, the white house often made dramatic personnel changes. george bush fired donald rumsfeld. bill clinton and ronald reagan appointed new chiefs of staff. trying to tell me something? >> albert: no, sir, i'm not. (laughter) will there be any shakeup? >> i don't know about shakeup. obviously, we all serve at the pleasure. as the president himself said we're honored t to be able to report to duty there every day. so i don't want to speak on announcements one way or the other. the president's view and how i try to operationalize the view, the way i see the white house is you have no general manager for a professional football team in this country that would say let's just keep somebody in here
for two years and then we'll refresh. our theory is we have to be refreshing, bringing in new blood, new talent, new ideas every day. when we find it, we'll bring it in. that's why, as soon as i got this job, i started to recruit john pedesta. he's been a great help to us. bob mcdonald veterans administration, in the last few months. julio castro at housing urban development. megan smith, senior technology guru from google. we'll keep adding people, ron claim and john allen on i.s.i.l. >> albert: so any sense, okay, we had an election, heard from the voters and we have to make bigger changes now? >> well, if the bigger changes now are, you know, us, as you say, firing somebody, i don't see anything like that on the
horizon. >> albert: who's going to be the main contact, the chief contact in this different environment with leader mcconnell? will it be vice president biden? denis mcdonough? who will it be? >> i think the president will be working closely with the leader and you heard what he said in the press conference about their interactions over the course of time. they had good interaction today before lunch and will continue to build that. the leader has been gracious to me over the course of my time in this job and obviously developed a good working relationship with the vice president but the chief contact being the president, obviously. >> albert: will the vice president be give an role with the changing of the senate. >> he has long, enduring relationships up there. he's a huge asset and they're working that out now. >> albert: take to it mean he'll play a more active role? >> i think the vice president is
a huge asset for us. (laughter) >> albert: let me ask you about the announcement you made today about doubling the forces in iraq and giving them more latitude to go beyond baghdad and asking for, i guess, $5.5 billion more. it's not huge numbers, but if this is a long slog, some critics will say this is just mission creek, the beginning, you will have to see this again. >> i've heard the critics, already. we wanted to go with a number that would be big enough to be transparent though we may not use the numbers out of the block. we want to be transparent with america in the training and assist efforts. we are trying to spread this out geographically to ensure iraq where military unions, i.s.f., iraqy security forces, who are spread out kind of west and north of baghdad and even a little northeast of baghdad have the ability to draw on
experienced u.s. trainers as they train up for the fight against i.s.i.l. same mission, just more of our guys doing it in a wider array of places. we don't see this being something that we're going to have to expand again in the near termch that's why i wanted to go with a big enough number to give us an opportunity to show america we know what we're doing and have the headroom to do it. >> albert: do you think the forces will fight in combat? >> no. they'll defend themselves if they need to. the president made clear that our guys will have the wherewithal to protect themselves, point one. point two, we know that to win this thing, our effort to degrade and ultimately destroy i.s.i.l, the iraqi security forces have to be the boots on the ground to take the fight to i.s.i.l. our guys will make sure they're forward deployed at places like
al-assad air base to make sure they can train them, they can sure they're ready and where the wherewithal to take the fight to i.s.i.l themselves. this is their battle to win, not ours. >> albert: how is i.s.i.l versus three months ago? >> a good story in the "new york times" yesterday. i think they are frustrated. they've had to change their tactics and practices and, as a result, we have been able to slow their momentum. this effort now to train more i.s.f. further out in the field will be our effort now then to allow the iraqis to not only have stopped them but to push them back. >> albert: we slowed their momentum. do we have them on the run yet? >> i wouldn't use that phrase, but it's not necessarily -- in minnesota, we don't use that phrase. here's what i do know that we're doing, we're getting within their cycle of making decisions, we're limiting their freedom of
action, we have an iraqi government that is now representative of all the factions in iraq which should then make the i.s.f. that much more capable. so as i.s.i.l has their morale degraded, has their freedom of movement limited, we should see the i.s.f. getting more capable and be able to push them back. >> albert: you said iran came up at the luncheon today. >> yes. >> albert: tell us what was said. >> there are a lot of quesons approaching the end of the interim agreement on the 24t 24th of this month. a lot of questions in congress as there are across the country about what's going to happen next, is there or not going to be a deal and what's the role of congress if there is or isn't a deal. the president was candid with his colleagues from congress saying in all cases we'll be consulting with congress about next steps. obviously, you know, we've made clear to the -- we and our
international partners including the russians and chinese who have stuck close with us have made clear to the iranians what we expect them to do, to be able to rejoin the community of nations. it's not clear yet they're ready to take those steps. it's going to be hard for the iranians. if they do, we'll obviously work closely with congress and if they don't, we'll work closely with congress as well. >> albert: your friend john mccain and lindsey graham blasted the president for a private letter to the supreme leader in iran saying that you shouldn't be dealing with him, it's a terrorist regime and it will hurt our alliances with other arab states. >> yeah. well, look, the coalition we've dealt with, the other arab states against i.s.i.l is very strong. over 60 nations. we're taking the effort squarely to i.s.i.l in the ways that we've talked. i'm not going to get into any questions of correspondence --
>> albert: you saw what they said about that. >> i did and i admire them and listen to them privately and watch what they say publicly as well. they have hard earned and hard-learned feelings about that. >> albert: did they talk about this to you, also? >> i haven't talked to them in the last little bit but i know how they feel about the iranians. i will say this, that we have tried to communicate to the iranians over the course of the last several years, and the kind of things that we want to make sure to the iranians are that they ought not misunderstand our clarity of purpose when we have guys in the region. we want to make sure that they don't think that they can get away with, you know, trying to threaten our people. we also make clear that what we expect of them in something like the nuclear deal. so, again, i'm not going to get
into whether or not there is any correspondence here. frankly, we don't have much to coordinate with these guys anyway, but if we have to pass a message to them, we're very, very clear about our interests. >> albert: well, there's only two and a half weeks before the november 24th deadline. >> yes. >> albert: that seems it would be difficult to make that deadline. i mean, please correct me if i'm wrong. do you think you are at least close enough so that that could be reasonably extend ford a while? -- extended for a while? >> well, i think a deadline has a way of focusing one's mind and i hope that's what this deadline serves to do. do. what the president said publicly is we've made good progress and the iranians have lived up to their end of the bargain so far, in this interim period where we've basically seen their program frozen and, in many key respects pushed backwards which
is undoubtedly in our interest. >> albert: they haven't cheated? >> we have no evidence they have cheated and none of our friends believe they've cheated either. that's important. that's observation one. observation two is we're still pretty far apart on some key questions. so you're right, two and a half weeks is not that long. but we know what's important in this effort and in the president's determination the ensure that iran does not develop nuclear weapons, and we'll make sure that we stay true to that. >> albert: are you optimistic that you will get will? >> not going to be optimistic or pessimistic. i'm very realistic about this and we just want to see on the dotted line whether they do the right thing. >> albert: you mentioned the role that congress might play earlier. if we get a deal and we know that's a huge deal right now, we're not making predictions -- >> yeah. >> albert: -- if you get a keel, could, would the president suspend sanctions against the
iranians for a limited period, a year, what have you, do that himself, see if they abide by it and then take it to congress for a permanent change? >> obviously, in the event of a deal, how the sanctions would then be taken off would be a key part of any deal. let's remember that we have both a multi-lateral sanctions that would require multi-lateral efforts up in new york at the united nations, and we have our bilateral sanctions which we have worked with congress over the course of time and those we're ultimately going to need congress to help us, if we got in a position where the iranians are doing the right thing, we would need congress to help us take those office. we'll have to work closely and congress will have to be a full partner. >> albert: you could do some initially and later have congress -- >> i want to avoid leaving you with any impression we know precisely what steps will be
taken first and what's second because this will be the subject of the ongoing negotiations. any deal is going to have to be verifiable and sanctions relief is going to occur when we verifiably see the iranians living up to the deal, so i'm not getting ahead of that now. >> albert: denis, let me turn to the domestic economy. good news today. >> very good. >> albert: jobs added last month, unemployment rate dropped again. 40% below last year. yet election day, 70% of americans had a negative view of where the economy is. is that, in part, a failure of the white house? that perception versus reality gap? >> nine months of more than 200,000 jobs a month. we've got kind of the starkist job growth since the '90s. obviously, the unemployment rate
is solid. >> albert: why do people -- well, people still feel very anxious about their own prospects, having come through a very deep recession, the deepest recession since the great depression, people are just now clawing back because of their hard work and because of some of the good decisions we've made. that's number one. the depth of the recession have impacted people's views going forward. this economy for some decades have been stuck on low wages. that's something we'll have to address by really getting the job training, apprenticeships trade deals like the one you and i were talking about before so that we have good strong manufacturing export led growth. >> albert: thank you denis mcdonough and thank you for joining us. >> charlie: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at pbs.org and charlierose.com.
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